Refugee Crisis and Islamic Relief
Due to the constant warring in the Middle East, specifically in Syria, millions upon millions of refugees have fled to numerous countries across the globe. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world leader for refugee statistics, since March of 2011, 11 million refugees have fled to countries apart of the European Union with another one million simply requesting asylum inside of Europe since the beginning of 2018.
With this, the rate of violent crime in countries accepting refugees have risen by over 10%, with 94% of this increase caused by male refugees. On top of this, a 2016 PEW Research Survey concluded that 58% of the European Union’s population is under the impression that refugees do not want to integrate into society. This combination of an increased crime rate and ideology that refugees want to be district and separate from the rest of society has made it extremely difficult for refugees to integrate into society.
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According to Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University, “”the blame for the problems in the world [are] placed on Muslim men, now neatly branded as patriarchal””. From this quote, it can be interpreted that there is a negative perception of Muslim men and refugees and therefore, people would be more hesitant to accept them into their culture; all of these are barriers that need to be overcome to help these asylum seekers integrate into western society.
The issue at hand must be addressed at a global level in light of the fact that numerous countries have tried to resolve this problem by segregating refugees into camps separate from the rest of their society. Seeing as this “”solution”” has failed to alleviate the growing negative attitudes towards the refugees and instead proliferated bigotry towards them, the question of educating refugees regarding western culture and economics must be considered as an alternative solution to help reestablish the image of refugees and allow them to have a beneficial impact on the economy.
The negative views towards Syrian Refugees is one of the most pressing cultural problems countries apart of the European Union face at the moment. A study conducted by the PEW Research Center, a bipartisan news sources, on Syrian Refugees concluded that, on average, 58% of people in a country apart of the European Union are under the impression that Syrian refugees want to be distinct from the rest of society. This ideology has ultimately led to the alienation of refugees further increasing the negative connotations associated with them and increasing the difficulty for them to integrate into society.
In 2008, before there was an influx of people seeking asylum in the European Union due to warring, only 18% of Europeans had an unfavorable view towards refugees whereas in 2017 that percentage spiked dramatically to 43%. This growth in adverse perceptions shares a connection with the growth of the rate of violent crime in these countries. Moreover, numerous anti-migrant campaigns initiated by news networks reinforce and perpetuate the negative views individuals have towards the families trying to enter their country. The negative stigma associated with them must be overcome in order to allow refugees even an opportunity to become apart of European culture.CASE STUDY:
The European Union’s response to the refugee crisis was the institution of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) which allowed countries apart of the European Union to decide what to do with families seeking asylum, leaving it up to the countries themselves to decide what to do about the influx, independently from what other countries were doing. With this system, a country such as Germany may have different procedures and responses to the refugee crisis in juxtaposition to other countries such as France or Belgium.
One country in particular- Hungary- established a completely immoral and borderline illegal system where after they accepted a set quota of refugees, every time they accepted another one, they deport one from their country in a “”one in, one out”” system””. The Hungarian government’s attempts to solve the growing hatred towards refugees by implementing this system has ultimately proved to be unsuccessful, illustrated by that fact that the Hungarian public has the highest percentage of negative views towards refugees compared to any other country in the European Union at 67%- much higher than the median for the rest of Europe.
Although crime rates have spiked due to the influx of refugees, the idea that limiting the number of them entering the country would help the ones who were already there integrate, is completely false and backwards thinking. Furthermore, numerous Hungarian news organizations have also perpetuated the stereotype that the refugees are less than everybody else in society with headlines like: “”They are Muslims — They have No honor””. With headlines such as these on the front page of widespread national newspapers, it should come as no shock that a PEW Research Study in 2016 concluded that 83% of Hungarians view Syrian refugees as a burden on society and that Hungarians were the most antagonistic towards Muslims out of 30 other countries surveyed.
In juxtaposition to Hungary, a country that lacks any form of refugee education, Germany has established a compulsory German Integration course for all refugees seeking asylum, no matter how old the refugees were. Under this system, all refugees seeking asylum are required to take 600 hours of a German Language course with another 100 hours in civics in order for them to get a more comprehensive understanding of the German language and culture. The education that Germany offers is also not a standard education- one that focuses on academia (math, science, history)- but one that teaches about culture in order for them to become more accustomed to their new environment.
This educational course also teaches key social skills such as treating women as equals, a trait that is not commonly possessed by incoming refugees, but is nonetheless an important quality that the German government requires and emphasizes in their teachings. Clearly, all of this has been successful at helping refugees integrate into their society because out of every other country inside of the European Union, Germany’s population has the lowest negative perceptions of refugees considering only 21% of their population has a negative outlook on them in contrast to Hungary’s 67%.
Not only are they perceived in a more positive fashion, the refugees themselves are happier because they are offered more opportunities to receive a better life in comparison to the life they might have had in their home in Syria. Because of their low percentage of people with a negative view of refugees, it is far easier for refugees to integrate into society than in any other country.
From an economic standpoint, not offering refugees an access to cultural and financial education is detrimental to a country’s economy and GDP in comparison to just letting refugees enter and leaving them to fend for themselves. According to Erin Rubin, an journalist for the Non Profit Quarterly, a bipartisan news organization, in Turkey, a country that has over 2 million Syrian Refugees permanently residing inside of its borders, their GDP has increased by as much as 2.1% as thousands of refugees have started their own businesses and “”every one percent increase in Syrian companies’ capita [brings] a 0.2 percent increase to the average daily earnings of all registered laborers””. Based off of this correlation, it becomes financially apparent why countries should devote more resources to helping refugee businesses flourish instead of just leaving them to fend for themselves.
Furthermore, according to The Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization, Syrian immigrants are four times more likely to start or own a business in comparison to any other racial or religious group. Both of these studies offer excellent examples of the economic prosperity countries can possibly face if refugees were offered financial education and more freedom to construct their business. With respects to jobs, an economic misconception that must also be addressed. Many individuals are under the impression that an increase in immigrant or refugee populations sequesters jobs away from the people already living inside of the country, but this is simply not the case.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, an American backed organization that analyzes economic trends, in the mid 1900’s, America accepted Mexican immigrants into the country on temporary visas in order to perform manual labor on farms through the Bracero Program. In the early 1960s, the program concluded and the immigrants were removed in hopes of fewer available laborers pushing agricultural wages up. Instead, farms simply invested the money into new technologies, replacing the workers and there was no impact on farm labor wages. The same can also be said today, as offering immigrants and refugees jobs not only helps them become financially stable it has no apparent negative impact on the business already established there- a commensalistic relationship.
Using the Germany Compulsory Education as a basis for the solution, offering refugees both cultural as well as financial education would be beneficial for helping them integrate into society. At a cost of losing part of their own language and their own culture, the refugees would be taught about the new culture that they are entering. Teaching these refugees the native language of the country that they are entering is crucial because over 80% people living in the European Union consider language an important part of nationality and are more willing to view an individual as an equal if they speak that language.
Moreover, teaching refugees to treat others as equals, a principle in the German education system, would alleviate the increase in crime considering the majority of crime committed by refugees is against women. This combination would ultimately prove successful at integrating refugees to any country apart of the European Union.
Within the next five years, over 5.4 million more Syrians will be displaced and they will be seeking asylum inside of Europe. If this solution is implemented, they will be offered both the ability to learn the countries language, but also financial skills required to start up a business. This would cause a surge in the number of small business in Europe as well as a propagation of Islamic culture.
According to Western Education News and Review, an organization specializing in hypothetical situations where people are offered different types of education, by the year 2025 a country such as Germany would see their GDP start to increase if they offer refugees financial education. In the best case scenario, by the year 2035, Germany’s GDP would increase by over 1.5%, a value totaling over $35 billion U.S. dollars. All of this exemplifies the benefits of offering refugees financial education. These refugees would also help diversify the culture as they come with their own sets of beliefs and perspectives. Most importantly, refugees would learn the crucial skills to help them live in the same community as the people already living there.